Friday, March 26, 2010

Liberty Park

It doesn't look like much, really. A tiny patch of grass, a couple of benches, a pair of trees. Nor are there great views to be had here, just parking facilities, the Albany bus terminal, and the back of Plaza Row with its fades ghosts signs for old blacksmith shops and electrical supplies.

But this lonely little green space on Hudson Avenue between Dallius and Liberty Streets is, in fact, Albany's oldest park.

Maps of Albany from 1848 identify it as a park and it can be outlined on maps going back as far as 1770. The park, known as Hudson Park (that name now refers to a neighborhood further uptown) and Diagonal Park, itself may date back to 1808.

Tradition also says that this was once the site of the Patroon's garden, part of the vast Rensselaerwyck "colonie" established in 1630 by Killiaen Van Rensselaer. Records from the late 1640s identify a three-year lease for a garden identified as being just north of "the ground where heretofore the trading house of the honorable patroon stood, and to the east of the churchyard." The patroon's house, which was destroyed by a flood in 1666, was occupied by Killiaen's son, Jeremias who was buried in said garden in 1674.

However, the well-researched The Patroon's Garden and Liberty Park, Albany, New York by Paul R. Huey discounts the connection between the garden and the park.

Ownership of the land that became Liberty Park, however, can be traced to the Wendell family, whose mills stood along the Beaverkill within modern Lincoln Park, and later in part, by Benjamin Knower, a respected Albany businessman whose waterproof hat factory still stands in the village of Altamont. The Patroon's Garden and Liberty Park gives an exhaustive list of the many owners of the lots at the site over the years.

Also of note is the proximity of this park to the oldest house in the city of Albany, the Van Ostrande-Radcliff House just a few yards north at 48 Hudson Avenue. Indeed, the archeological remnants of other 18th-century buildings may still preserved beneath Liberty Park itself since the land has been comparatively undisturbed for so long and one can only hope that this significance will be respected when plans for the nearby Albany Convention Center move forward!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Broadway

Bicentennial plaque affixed to the Old Post Office and Federal Building on Broadway at the foot of State Street.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Upcoming at the AIHA

On March 21, the Albany Institute of History & Art will be hosting the Muhhekunnetuk Family Day Festival.

The day's events will include a 2 p.m. performance of the Gunstwork Puppet Theatre's play, Four Wishes, and a lecture - The Two Hendricks - Unraveling A Mohawk Mystery - by Eric Hindraker.

For additional information, please see the AIHA's site.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lincoln Park Plaque

Plaque at the base of a tree just behind the tennis courts at Lincoln Park. It's interesting to note that this plaque stands in a park named for President Lincoln while there is a park named for President Washington just a stone's throw away.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Roof Collapse At Third Precinct

According to a story posted this afternoon by CBS Albany, part of the roof of the historic Third Precinct building on North Pearl Street has collapsed. The collapse now threatens the long-vacant building as other parts of the structure may have to be torn down to prevent further hazards.

The Historic Albany Foundation has long identified this distinctive former police station as an endangered property. The dark brick and white-glazed terra cotta building is just several blocks north of the Palace Theatre and was designed by Walter Van Guysling who also designed the Hudson River Day Line Office and the R.H. Wing building on lower Broadway.

The photo above was taken last September.

Edited - The Times Union has a more detailed article on the collapse at the building.

TU - Historic police station collapses, fate uncertain

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lydius Corner

The northeast corner of State and Pearl Streets. The storefront space above this plaque most recently housed the Fusion Cafe and is now being prepped for a Subway sandwich shop to move in.

The corner was named for a fur trader, John Lydius, who own a house here in the 18th century, as well as a residence in Montreal.